By Mary Delaci Leonard
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
April 25, 2004


The ice cream cone was invented at the 1904 World's Fair when vendor Ernest Hamwi began forming his thin waffles -- called zalabias -- into cones for an ice cream vendor who had run out of serving dishes. Hamwi probably did make ice cream cones, but other fair concessionaires were also filling cones with ice cream - and the question is who did what first, says Pam Vaccaro of St. Louis, who has written a new book about food at the fair.

Of more concern is this fact: Italo Marchioney of New York patented his ice cream waffle cup in December 1903.

While some people argue that Marchioney's flat-bottomed waffle cup was different from the waffle cone invented at the fair, Vaccaro says all can agree that ice cream cones were popularized at the exposition.

"With 20 million people and a hot summer in St. Louis - it's most likely we did help put ice cream cones on the map," she said. "We pushed its popularity right out there."

In her book, "Beyond the Ice Cream Cone; The Whole Scoop on Food at the 1904 World's Fair" (Enid Press), Vaccaro puts to rest the myths that hot dogs and iced tea were invented at the fair, offering documentation that both appeared much earlier. Also not invented at the fair: hamburgers, peanut butter and the club sandwich.


The Ferris wheel was invented for the 1904 World’s Fair

Actually, it was a secondhand Ferris wheel, Chicago used it first.

George Ferris, a steel bridge builder, built his giant Ferris wheel for the World's Columbian Exposition in 1893. It was Chicago's answer to the Eiffel Tower, the 984-foot observation tower built for the Paris Exposition in 1889.

After the fair closed, the wheel was dismantled and moved to a site near Lincoln Park, where an entertainment center had been planned. That never materialized, and the wheel was eventually sold at auction.

In 1904, the wheel was moved to St. Louis and reincarnated at the Louisiana Purchase Exposition, where it wowed the crowds once again. It was a marvel that stood 264 feet and had 36 cars the size of streetcars; at full capacity it could hold 2,160 passengers.

During the St. Louis fair, people held banquets on the Ferris wheel, and couples got married on the ride. On July 16, 1904, Miss Dollie Coffman of Kansas and John Craven of Cummins' Wild West Show on The Pike rode horses onto the wheel and said their "I dos" at the top.

After the St. Louis fair closed, the wheel again lost its magic. Though was the first Ferris wheel - and would be the model for those that followed - George Ferris' engineering marvel had become an eyesore. It stood until May 11, 1906, when it was blow up, and the pieces hauled away as scrap iron. There have been several attempts in recent years to find the 89,320 -- pound axle, which is believed to be buried in Forest Park.


The Dogtown neighborhood of St Louis got its name because the Igorots in the Philippine Reservation used to sneak out from their village on the fairgrounds and steal dogs from the nearby area for their feasts.

"That is sheer and utter nonsense," says Dogtown historian Bob Corbett.

While it's true that Igorots ate dogs during the fair - and that created a sensation in St. Louis - the neighborhood got its name much earlier, he insists. Corbett grew up in Dogtown, an area roughly bounded by Macklind Avenue on the east, Manchester Avenue on the south, McCausland Avenue on the west and Oakland Avenue on the north.

Corbett believes the nickname developed sometime after 1876, when the city acquired the land for Forest Park. A group of Irish coal miners who had been working a mine on the site were evicted, and they moved to an area near West Park and Graham. They continued to work in the area's clay mines and brick factories, and many owned watchdogs to protect their homes and families from passing hobos while they were away.

Corbett, 65, is a retired Webster University philosophy professor. His research on Dogtown, including the theories about its name, are available at his Web site, www.corbettland.com. He says that as a boy growing up in Dogtown, he never heard anyone tell the Igorot story and that it became popular only in recent years. When he talked to the neighborhood's old-timers -- the generation preceding baby boomers -- they had never heard it.

Corbett says the watchdog theory was first described in a history of the neighborhood written by the Rev P.J. O'Connor in 1937. O'Connor was a pastor for 40 years at St. James Catholic Church and is considered an accurate local historian.


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Bob Corbett corbetre@webster.edu